Wednesday, November 30, 2005
It all depends on how many tickets Central Florida or Tulsa can guarantee. With Fresno State already set as the opponent, and East Coast team must be able to guarantee tickets. That is why Memphis is such an intriguing option. The hometown Tigers have never played in the Liberty Bowl and DeAngelo Williams is the nation's leading rusher and a legitimate Heisman Candidate. That alone dwarfs anything a Tulsa or Central Florida can bring to the table.
Central Florida has a great rags-to-riches story from last year to this year and head coach George O' Leary is another great story. But if the Golden Knights lose, the great story dies with the loss. Tulsa vs Fresno State does not register as a marquee game no matter what. These former Western Athletic Conference members have not met since 2002, and the Bulldogs have never lost to the Golden Hurricane. Fresno State-Tulsa still signals WAC power versus WAC pasty in my mind and many others too.
A 9-3 Central Florida would be the best choice for the Liberty Bowl opposite Fresno State, but if the Knights can not sell enough tickets, then the choice has to be Memphis. The funny thing is Memphis was beaten by both Central Florida and Tulsa, 38-17 and 37-31, respectively.
Memphis struggled mid-year due to season ending injuries to their top two quarterbacks, but have rebounded to win their last two and finish 6-5. If the Tigers had pulled out the win at Tennessee, November 12, no doubt they would be in the Liberty Bowl hands down.
Being the homer I am, I ranked the Bulldogs 18th on my ballot this week, down from 11th last week. But it still wasn't the highest rank Fresno State received, someone voted them 14th .
Fresno State should make a big jump if they beat Louisiana Tech soundly. A lot of blogpoll voters were disgusted with Fresno State's performance because it made them look bad for voting the Bulldogs so high the week before.
I have always respected Matt Rivera for his hard work and determination, nothing against him but he has no business getting carries over last year's starter Bryson Sumlin. Sumlin was a 1,000 yard rusher last year, and like Rivera a former walk on. Pat Hill has always said he doesn't like running back by committee, and has held up his word in 2005. This year Wendell Mathis has stepped up his game and wrestled away the starting position in preseason and has not let it go.
Fresno State is passing the ball more and has reduced the run oriented offense from a year ago. Sumlin has seen his carries dwindle to nothing in the last three games, which had happened to be the three biggest games of the season. But even early on in the season it was evident that Sumlin was not going to share the load with Mathis.
In the second game of the season, at Oregon, Fresno State was inside the Duck 45 yard line and faced a critical third and short. The Bulldogs held a 17-6 lead, but needed to answer Oregon's touchdown or risked losing their momentum. Mathis had started and carried the bulk of the load, but Sumlin was called for this key short yardage situation. It was a simple power play up the middle, but Sumlin tried to bounce it to the outside and was tackled for a short loss. He did not see anymore playing time the rest of the game.
However, Sumlin bounced back the next week to record his first 100 yard game on the season, in the 44-14 win over Toledo. But he has been reduced to nothing more than a sideshow, carrying only two times in the last three games. The loss of fullback Roshon Vercher has somewhat diminished his role, as backup fullback Rivera has assumed a majority of the snaps Vercher would have taken.
My thought was why isn't Sumlin playing some fullback? He is bigger, stronger and more physical than Rivera. Imagine Sumlin and Mathis in the same backfield, both can run and are able to catch passes out of the backfield. Auburn excelled last year with Ronnie Brown and Carnell "Cadillac" Williams playing in the same backfield.
It seemed last year, while unprepared for the loss of starter Dwayne Wright, offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti was able to incorporate enough plays that allowed Sumlin and Mathis to co-exist together and form an excellent one-two punch. With the entire offseason, one would have thought some sort of plan or tweak to the offense would have allowed both of these fine running backs to line up together in at least one or two formations.
It seems the loss of running back/return specialist Clifton Smith might be a huge reason for this. Going back to the Oregon game, before Smith was injured in the first quarter, he lined up constantly with Mathis in the backfield. It was evident that Smith was going to play a vital role in the offense in that game and probably for the rest of the season. His speed and athleticism was going to be a problem for any linebacker to cover, similar to what Reggie Bush can create in the USC offense.
Since his injury, wide receivers Adam Jennings, Jaron Fairmon, and Paul Williams have all lined up in the backfield to create mismatches. Rivera has lined up in many of these formations as well, but never Sumlin and Mathis together. Why? Who knows, the coaches must know, the Bulldogs are 8-3 and just 14 points away from being unbeaten. But many are wondering why such a great running back like Bryson Sumlin is taking a back seat in a offense that he has excelled in his entire career.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
As if Fresno State did not have enough to worry about after Saturday's loss at Nevada. The Bayou Bulldogs are playing for a bowl berth, and like everyone else in the WAC, beating Fresno State is icing on the cake. A blowout loss at the hands of Fresno State will all but keep La Tech home for the Holidays. However, a win over the 22nd ranked Bulldogs makes La Tech look that more enticing to bowls reps.
Fresno State pounded La Tech last year with the run; as the passing game struggled, only totaling 104 yards. Ryan Moats was the huge factor in beating Fresno State last year. Moats ran for over 200 yards and all four of La Tech's touchdowns. Moats is with Eagles, but La Tech is having an even better year without him. That may have more to do with La Tech's softer non-conference slate this year compared to last year's Miami, Tennessee and Auburn.
Monday, November 28, 2005
The Bulldogs lost to lowly Nevada, deal with it and let it go. Fresno State can beat up on Louisiana Tech Saturday, get some payback for last year's loss, and subsequently win a share of the Western Athletic Conference title. Then march on to Memphis, clean up against a Conference USA team and finish ranked in the top 20 to end the season.
The Bulldogs still remained in the polls, which is a major surprise. I guess many around the country were expecting a letdown, exactly what happened, and were kind to the Bulldogs. Nevada played their best game of the year and Fresno State their worst, and the Bulldogs still almost pulled out a win.
Great teams find ways to win. Just how USC dug deep and found a way to match the Bulldogs intensity and pull out the win last week. Fresno State was unable to match the Wolfpack's emotion and effort.
This week is not going to be easy either. Louisiana Tech would like nothing more than to eliminate Fresno State from WAC title contention, and improve their own bowl resume in the process with a win. This will be third time in five years Fresno State has faced Louisiana Tech, while ranked in the top 25.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
The Bulldogs still have a chance to end the season ranked in the top 25 for the second straight season and top their final 22nd ranking from a year ago. But the reality is there will be no name oppenent, like Virginia last year, to end the season with and propel the Bulldogs back in the national spotlight.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Well, a Pat Hill coached Bulldog team has done it again. First, Hill teased the Bulldog faithful in 2001 with a magical run that started with huge wins over Colorado, Oregon State and Wisconsin only to see it end with a loss to Boise State. Then in 2004 he did it to the faithful again. After wins over Washington and Kansas State; the dream season ended with a loss at Louisiana Tech.
2005 has been totally different. Fresno State did not start the season with big wins over Bowl Championship Series teams, but earned a 16th national ranking with consistent play and near wins over Oregon and No. 1 USC. An outright WAC title was theirs for the taking after a huge win over their nemesis Boise State. Well, Hill has teased the Bulldog faithful once again.
After the near win at USC, all Fresno State had to do to win their first ever outright WAC title was to win at Nevada and Louisiana Tech. Could it happen again, can a Hill coached team lose two WAC games and miss out on a "sure" conference title?
All the greatness that was achieved last week has just got down the drain, with the 38-35 loss at Nevada. Fresno State deserves a shot at the Conference USA champ; it has not deserved anything else this year. Hill must have known something, no way, the Liberty takes Fresno State after a loss at Nevada. If the Bulldogs lose next week to Louisiana Tech, they would be shut out of the two WAC bowls and would be hoping for an at-large bid. There is not another big game on the schedule that will redeem Fresno State in the eyes of the country. They will still be the team that can hang with big boys, but can not win a WAC title.
I doubt ticket sales for Memphis are going to increase after the loss to the Wolfpack. The Liberty Bowl will be lucky to get 2,000 fans from Fresno. At least if the bowl game would have been the Emerald in San Francisco, fans could have a change of heart at the last minute and drive up for the game. That is not the case for a destination like Memphis.
There have been many fans that have said, that as long as Pat Hill is the coach of the Bulldogs, they would never win a WAC title. Hill can still win a title next week with a win, but it will not be an outright title, while Boise State has secured their fourth straight conference title.
What does this Bulldog think or feel. I will always support the 'Dogs, but I am fucking disappointed. I hyped this game to fellow college football bloggers and writers across the country to prove Fresno State was a dominant, smashmouth team. Now, I have egg on my face, and will face the wrath of many emails. I felt this team had gotten over the mental hump, wrong! The only thing that is consoling me is the fact that Notre Dame is close to losing its game at Stanford.
If the Irish lose at Stanford coupled with the Bulldogs loss, what does that do to USC's resume?
(16) Fresno State Bulldogs (8-2) at Nevada Wolfpack (7-3)
Date: Saturday, November 26th
Kickoff: 7 p.m. (et) Site: Mackay Stadium (31,00) -- Reno, Nevada
Home Record: Fresno State 5-0; Nevada 4-1
Away Record: Fresno State 3-2; Nevada 3-2
Conference Record: Fresno State 6-0; Nevada 6-1
Current Road Win/Loss Streak: Fresno State 1L
Current Home Win/Loss Streak: Nevada 4W
Announcers: Sean McDonough, Mike Gottfried and Alex Flanagan
All-Time Series: Fresno State (22-12-1)
Last Meeting: November 20, 2004 (Fresno State, 54-17 at Fresno State)
Series Streak: Fresno State has won the last six meetings.
GAME NOTES: After nearly pulling off the impossible, the 16th-ranked Fresno State Bulldogs fall back into Western Athletic Conference play this Saturday night when they travel to Reno to take on the Nevada Wolf Pack. Last weekend the Bulldogs seemingly had the top-ranked USC Trojans on the ropes but then allowed Reggie Bush to blow away any thoughts the team might have had at ending the longest winning streak in the nation. The bottom line is that FSU came away on the short end of a 50-42 shootout, and yet the team didn't fall in the rankings even one spot because they showed up and played hard on every snap. The loss snapped a seven-game win streak for the Bulldogs, whose only other loss on the year was to nationally-ranked Oregon on the road, 37-34. As for the Wolf Pack, they've run off three straight wins thanks to a 30-24 triumph versus Utah State on the road last weekend in front of the smallest crowd to see the Pack play this season. The victory also moved Nevada to 6-1 in league play, and with some help from Louisiana Tech in the coming weeks, could possibly finish in a tie for the top spot in the WAC. Fresno State has taken six straight in the all-time series, including a 54-17 thrashing of the Pack a year ago at this time. As a result, the Bulldogs currently hold a 22-12-1 advantage over Nevada
© Sports Network
The Western Athletic Conference title is just one win away, and the outright title is two games away. Neither one is going to be easy, but neither will be all that daunting. The biggest challenge facing the Bulldogs today might be the weather, temperaturess in the low 40's await them. Possible snow flurries might also be in the forecast. Unlike Nevada, Fresno State will not have heaters on their sideline nor will the players be wearing team parkas.
The Bulldogs will be focused; there is still too much on the line for them to fall victim to an upset. Pat Hill has had this team very focused this year and mentally ready to play in every game. Nevada will be no different.
Starting linebacker Marcus Riley is out with a knee injury.
NCAA 06 Prediction
According to Sony Playstation's NCAA Football 06, Fresno State bounces back easily with a 34-13 win over Nevada.
Paul Pinegar passes for 303 yards and 4 touchdowns and Wendell Mathis adds 122 yards on the ground with a score. The Bulldogs never trailed jumping out to a 13-0 lead, and 20-7 halftime lead.
Friday, November 25, 2005
One would think that after such a hard-fought game with the No. 1 team in the country; there would have to be a letdown the following week. Pat Hill and Fresno State are trying to avoid a letdown, as their main goal of an outright Western Athletic Conference title is very attainable.
Nevada has secured their first winning season since 1998, the last year they beat the Bulldogs, and still have a chance to win the WAC title, too. Chris Ault has restored the winning tradition in just his second year after returning to the head coaching position. His pistol offense has been a key in the resurgence. It is unique to college football as the quarterback, is neither under center nor in shotgun formation, stands about three feet behind center to receive the snap.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Three of the players on this team are still active. Ironically, the 1987 team has six players on this team, the most of any year. It had three seniors, one junior, but the two underclassman were future all-Americans Ron Cox and James Williams. The 1987 squad went a disappointing 6-5; the two previous years the Bulldogs were a combined 20-2-1.
WR- Henry Ellard 1979-82
WR- Charlie Jones 1992-95
TE- Craig Jones 1987-88
T- Logan Mankins 2001-04
T- Mike Withycombe 1986-87
C- Kyle Young* 2003-
G- Melvin Johnson 1989-91
G- Barry Grove 1984-85
QB- David Carr 1997-01
RB- Ron Rivers 1989-93
RB- Aaron Craver 1989-90
FB- Lorenzo Neal 1990-92
AP- Bernard Berrian 1999-03
DE- Jethro Franklin 1986-87
DT- Alan Harper 1998-01
NT- Zack Rix 1989-92
DE- Garrett McIntyre* 2002-05
LB- Ron Cox 1987-89
LB- Tim Skipper 1996-00
LB- Orlando Huff 1999-00
CB- James Williams 1986-89
CB- Richard Marshall* 2003-
SS- Steve Cordle 1980-81
FS- Marquez Pope 1988-91
PK- Barry Belli 1984-87
P- Mike Mancini 1983-85
KR- David Dunn 1993-94
PR- Stephan Baker 1985-86
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
The Liberty Bowl will match the Bulldogs opposite a Conference USA team. The opponent is more than likely going to be 8-3 Central Florida or 9-2 UTEP. The Liberty Bowl is not obligated to take the conference champion, but probably will take the winner of the CUSA Championship game on December 3.
UCF will play either UTEP or 7-4 Tulsa in the title game. If UTEP beats SMU this weekend then the Miners win the Western Division; a loss would give Tulsa the division title. UCF looks to be the front runner, win or lose, December 3, but the 'Dogs would love to give UTEP some payback.
The rags to riches story of the UCF Golden Knights is a hard one to pass up, and their coach, George O'Leary is another story in itself. UCF went 0-11 last year in the Mid-American Conference, but won the Eastern Division crown over favored CUSA heavyweights: Memphis, UAB and Southern Miss.
ESPN would love either UCF or UTEP since the Miners' head coach, Mike Price, is another high profile name. The Liberty favors UCF, also, because of their proximity to Memphis. An all-western matchup of UTEP and FS is not high on their list, since UTEP is no longer ranked in the top 25.
The Bulldogs have never played a CUSA school. The conference was created in 1996 with 6 charter members. Since then it has undergone many changes, the last, a move to 12 teams this year. The expansion allowed for the creation of the inaugural CUSA Championship game.
Fresno State, however, has played teams that have become members of CUSA. Fresno State went 1-2 vs TCU from 1998-2000 when the Frogs were members of the Western Athletic Conference. Fresno State also beat up on UTEP, Tulsa, Rice and SMU in WAC play before they all joined CUSA this year. Of those four only UTEP(twice) and SMU beat the 'Dogs in WAC play from 1992-2004.
UCF, along with Marshall, left the MAC to join CUSA this year. Of the original CUSA members only Southern Miss, Houston, Memphis, and Tulane remain. East Carolina and UAB joined in 1997 and 1999, respectively. Army and TCU joined in 1998 and 2001, respectively, but both left this year. Army went back to being an independent and TCU left for the Mountain West Conference.
Louisville and Cincinnati were charter member of CUSA but left this year for the Big East, along with South Florida. The Bulls were only a member of CUSA for two years before getting the invite to join a Bowl Championship Series conference. USF began playing DI-A football in 2001, as an independent, and have never been to a bowl game. The program itself is less than 10 years old.
16th ranked Fresno State is going their 7th straight bowl game. It will be their first east of the Rockies, the first with a payout over 1 million, and their most prestigious bowl ever. While, unranked South Florida still controls their own destiny to a BCS bowl, the Sugar, with a payout over 13 million, and it is arguably the second most prestigious bowl behind the Rose.
Does anyone else see something wrong with this fucking picture?
At 7-3 (6-1), Nevada is tied for second in the WAC, but a win over the Bulldogs would give them at least a share of the conference title. The Pack are all but guaranteed a bowl bid for the first time in nine years, even in a loss.
Since Nevada joined the WAC in 2000 Fresno State has owned the Wolfpack, but they have had their share of big wins over the Bulldogs when they were in the Big West. In 1994 the Bulldog football program was falling into demise, but Nevada didn't care. They went "Tecmo Bowl" on Fresno State whipping the 'Dogs, 62-35.
In 1998 the underdog Bulldogs took Big 12 Colorado and Texas Tech to the brink of defeat only to lose in the final minutes on the road. Nevada was the first home opponent in late September. A driving rain hit the game early in the third quarter and about half the crowd left with the Bulldogs clearly in command of the game. And come on, the 'Dogs almost beat two Big 12 teams, who thought a Big West team would beat Fresno State at home. Well, they did, 27-24.
The Bulldogs are on the road in Reno, but they will be focused. USC came and went, the WAC title has been the goal all season long, and it is there for the taking.
Fresno State coach Pat Hill had no comment on his team's bowl status.
"I'm not in touch with that. I don't really know. I'm not too worried about bowl teams right now," he said.
He did, however, mention a few other team's prospects when asked if his squad's narrow loss to Southern Cal might bolster the Bulldogs hopes.
"I'm not into moral victories or closeness," Hill said.
"Notre Dame's claim to fame this year is losing to SC. Oregon, their big push in the BCS is they lost by 30 at home to SC. I'm not into that. We lost a very, very tough game, but we lost."
You gotta love Hill!
Monday, November 21, 2005
The game, more than any other in recent memory, made me long for the old days of no "BCS" and "non-BCS" distinctions, when bowls weren't locked into certain conferences. If this were 1985, not 2005, Fresno State would not be playing in the WAC with Utah State and Idaho. It would be an independent, not unlike Florida State once was, free to play games like these nearly every week and eligible for more glamorous postseason destinations than the Liberty or Hawaii bowls.
Fresno State is much than these two teams. Nothing against them, but traveling across the country to play UCF or UTEP is hardly a matchup to get excited about. But, I'm not the one playing the game. The players deserve a great bowl game to play in, and there are few better than the one in Memphis.
The Pac 10 looks like they could be short on at least two to three bowl eligible teams depending if Oregon get a BCS bid or not, and if Arizona State and Stanford win their last games to get eligible. That could open a Emerald Bowl game vs TCU. That would be great for the fans and players, but that game has a 4:30pm kickoff ET on a Thursday. How much national coverage would that game get? Other possibilities could be the Las Vegas, but that bowl wants BYU, and TCU does not want to go to the Las Vegas Bowl. TCU prefers to get an at-large invite to the Houston Bowl vs the Big 12.
The Poinsettia Bowl has been rumored the only possible game that could matchup #15 TCU vs #16 Fresno State, but are leaning towards inviting Navy to play New Mexico or Colorado State.
If the Pac 10 only has four or five bowl eligible teams there is the remote possibility the Insight Bowl in Phoenix could invite Fresno State to play the 3rd selection from the Big East. West Virginia/South Florida winner will go to the Sugar Bowl. The second place team will get the invite to the Gator if Notre Dame goes to the BCS, otherwise the second place team will be sent to the Insight. A Fresno State vs Louisville in the Insight is possible if everything falls into to place, but probably unlikely.
The Liberty seems like the destination if the 'Dogs win out and that game will give the Bulldogs their highest payout ever in a bowl game about 1.3 million. The Liberty gets great national exposure on New Year's Eve and ESPN's top broadcast team usually calls the game, Mike Tirico and Kirk Herbstreit with Lee Corso as guest analyst for the game.
Ironically the Bulldogs main competition for the bid to Memphis is Virginia. The Wahoos did not help their cause by getting whipped at home against Virginia Tech, while Fresno State pushed the national champs to the limit. But the Bulldogs must first get by Nevada and Louisiana Tech before anything else. It should be no problem.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
I agree with the Top 12-15. In fact, I vote in the Grantland Rice Super 16 Poll and this week, there sits FS. They did play well against USC but I wouldn't go as far to say it was a great game by USC. Leinart has had much better games, as have his receivers. Give FS credit for pushing USC. As to the schedule, some teams shy away from playing Fresno State because of the reputation of having a program which does not always follow the rules and brings in renegade kids. I don't agree but more than one AD has told me this. Good luck in a bowl game. -BC
Fresno State remained 16th in the latest USA Today Coaches and AP Polls. That is either a sign of respect or a sign that voters turned in their ballot before the game was over. No matter what, it give Fresno State a good chance to finish the season in the top 10 for the first time in school history. The Bulldogs must take care of Nevada, Louisiana Tech and whatever bowl opponent to finish off a very successful season.
3. A comment sure to piss off people. I offer this: there is no reason why Notre Dame should be ranked ahead of Fresno State. The Bulldogs played USC just as tough, and at USC instead of at home (on a waterbed to slow down the Trojans). Fresno State's other loss was by 3 at Top 10 Oregon, not a 5-6 team at home. Fresno State hasn't had a single other close game. Other than Michigan, the rest of ND's schedule isn't that great. If ND gets ranked high because of their loss to USC, Fresno State deserves the same. Of course, ND is assumed to be in the BCS, while Fresno State will be lucky to stay in the Top 25.
from The Corporate Headquarters of the San Antonio Gunslingers
Pat Hill does not believe in moral victories, but if there was such a thing the Bulldogs won the biggest one ever in college football history. Fresno State hung toe to toe with best team in the country for four quarters, and nearly sent the game into overtime.
Some will complain about Pinegar's interceptions, but the Bulldogs still had their chances to win despite the turnovers. That's what makes this game so frustrating; the Bulldogs took USC's best shot and still stood tall.
If Fresno State does not stay put or move up in the polls, I do not know what to say about the poll system. The game did not finish until after 2am ET, so I bet most voters tuned out after USC scored their third touchdown to take a 34-21 lead in the third quarter.
This game was one of the best of the year, but too bad most of the nation was sound asleep before halftime.
Two final words, Reggie Bush!
Just hand the boy the Heisman already!
Saturday, November 19, 2005
...........happen? Fresno State and USC are playing as even as they can, Fresno State 237 total yards and USC 238 total yards. But the Bulldogs have the 8 point lead, 21-13 at the half. Fresno State gets the ball to start the third. They need to score to keep the pressure on the Trojans.
Fresno State has already proved it can hang with the best in the nation. Now, they have a chance to prove they can beat the best in the nation. USC is in for a game. If the Trojan players didn't believe the Bulldog hype before the game; they are now. USC will come out on fire in the second half, and the Bulldogs can not let up.
Fresno State can smell it!
Fresno State (8-1) at USC (10-0)
TIME/SITE: 7:15 p.m. (PT); Los Angeles, Calif.; Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (92,000/Grass)
TELEVISION: Fox Sports Net; Barry Tompkins, Petros Papadakis, Jim Watson
SERIES LOOK: Fresno State won the only other meeting back in 1992 when the Bulldogs beat USC, 24-7, in the Freedom Bowl at Anaheim, Calif.
COACHES: Fresno State’s Pat Hill is in his ninth season as a head coach and has a record of 72-39.
GAME NOTES: Fresno State – has a seven-game winning streak, tied for the fifth longest in the nation ... has punted 10 times over its last five games ... its only loss came at 10th-ranked Oregon, 37-34 ... the Bulldogs led 17-0 in that game ... Wendell Mathis, a transfer from UCLA, has rushed for more than 100 yards in four straight games and has scored at least one touchdown in every game this season ... Paul Pinegar has thrown a touchdown pass in 18 straight games. USC – played at California last week and won 35-10 ...has won 32 consecutive games, the eighth longest streak in NCAA history ... has won 25 straight at home ... opened its season at Hawai‘i where it won 63-17. -wacsports.com
The Real Gameday
The folks at ESPN will be airing a feature on Pat Hill and the Bulldogs this morning on ESPN Gameday. The first time I remember ESPN Gameday ran a feature on Fresno State was in 1989, when the 10-0 Bulldogs were preparing to finish 11-0. Fresno State lost that day 45-22 to a 1-10 New Mexico Lobo team.
Gameday ran another feature about Fresno State and the "Shut and Hit Somebody" mantra in 2001. Fresno State upset Wisconsin that day, let see what happens today?
Clint Stitser is out for the season. Jason Shirley, Joe Fernandez and Ahijah Lane are expected to play. Who would miss this game?
NCAA 06 Prediction
According to Sony Playstation's NCAA Football 06 Paul Pinegar throws for a school record 576 yards but it was not enough as the 'Dogs were beaten by USC. The Trojans jumped out to a 21-0 lead and Fresno State never recovered.
USC jumped out to a 28-7 lead towards the end of the half, but Fresno State responded to cut the lead to 28-14. Reggie Bush put the game away with 74 yard touchdown run to give USC a 35-14 lead. Pinegar threw the ball over the place in the second half but stalled drives and interceptions killed any comeback hopes. Fresno State loses 42-21.
Guest Analysis and Prediction
1) Special Teams: If Fresno State is to play with USC the special teams will be one of the most important areas for the Dogs. They cannot consistently play on a long field in turn giving USC a short field to work with. Both teams have electrifying players with respect to the kick return game. Both Adam Jennings and Reggie Bush are two of the fastest return men in the nation. Currently Adam Jennings is the only player in the nation in the top ten in both returning kickoffs and punts. However, Reggie Bush is Reggie Bush and not much more needs to be said. If Fresno State is to win the battle of field position Fresno State's punter Lingua will have to show his usual five second hang-time which severely limits any chance of a return from Bush. Fresno State has the advantage with respect to special teams, but that is the case regardless of who Fresno State plays.
2) QB Play: Obviously Matt Leinart is going to play well; one would be crazy to think he won't have a big game. He is the best qb in college football and probably has been the best qb for the past three years. He never seems uncomfortable when throwing the ball and rarely makes mistakes. Fresno State is going to have to pressure Leinart often in order to force him to throw the ball earlier than he wants. This may sound easy but honestly aside Notre Dame Leinart has played amazing this season. Paul Pinegar has come along nicely for Fresno State and finally has developed into that qb that dog fans can count on week after week. He throws the ball over the middle well and always seems to get the ball into Williams's hands on the outside when it is needed. Pinegar will also play well against USC's defense as the Bulldog offensive line rarely lets Pinegar feel the pressure. However, the advantage here still sits with USC and Leinart.
3) Reggie Bush/Lendale White vs. Wendell Mathis/Bryson Sumlin: USC and Fresno State are similar with respect to their running backs. Fresno State primarily uses Mathis as their starter but Sumlin can come in and dominate a game very easily. Mathis may be the faster running back but Sumlin is the kind of running back that will not go down the first time he is hit. USC may be surprised at the strength in these two running backs for Fresno State. Of course USC has two Rb's that are over 1000 yards already and are both high draft picks if they leave this year. Fresno has been suspect against the run this year allowing big plays from time to time. The advantage here has to go to USC.
4) Dwayne Jarrett/Steve Smith vs. Marcus McCauley/Richard Marshall: Jarrett has already eclipsed the 1000 yard mark for the season and Smith should also get there before the season is over. Leinart will throw the ball often against these two corners, but if he is smart he will stay away from McCauley as he will not let a receiver beat him two times. Zambranski tried to throw McCauley's way twice in a four down series and the second pass was intercepted. It will be up to these two corners to limit Matt Leinart and what options he will have deep down the field. There is no clear advantage here as the db's and receivers match up evenly against one another.
5) Paul Williams/Joe Fernandez vs. USC corners: Fresno State will try to run the ball as it has all year. However, their offense has become vertical of late getting both of these receivers involved often. Williams will make catches that most receivers cannot get to. In the end Pinegar is going to need a big day from both of these men in order to keep the game close. In the end you can break down FSU-USC however you want to. Any fan will find a reason why their team can win the game. FSU is the underdog and rightly so. If FSU can keep the game close in the first half they will begin to see they can beat USC. This Bulldog fan believes Fresno will play the best game of the year but will come up short due to the fact they are playing the best team of the decade. USC - 35 FSU - 24 -Neil Coppola
Friday, November 18, 2005
Everyone is viewing the Big Game as David vs Goliath, but what did Goliath have to gain by beating David? In that scenario only David is to gain in victory. That is not the case for Goliath USC tomorrow at the Coliseum. USC has plenty gain with a big win, including its 15th straight win over a AP top 25 ranked team, a 33rd straight win, and most importantly to remain on pace to become national champions for a unprecedented third straight year.
Pete Carroll is saying all the right words to the media to hype up the matchup with Fresno State, but is anyone really buying it? The Trojans have plowed through everyone this year at the Coliseum, yet only one team that has played in L.A. has a winning record, Stanford. USC beat the Cardinal 51-21 and only Arizona has kept the Trojans under 50 points at home, but still lost by 21.
Why should Carroll be worried about a Western Athletic Conference team? Because Fresno State is ready to play. Win or lose, the Bulldogs are going to give it their all, and hopefully USC brings their A game. I really want to see where this year's Fresno State team stacks up against the best in the country.
The Bulldogs that played at no. 1 Oklahoma in 2003 was not a great team. They were a decent team, but were no where near the level of the 2005 squad.
The Fresno Factor: Here's what most people don't know -- Fresno State is as tough as L.A. is la-la. That's why, win or lose, USC will come out of Saturday beaten up.
Bulldogs coach Pat Hill is famous for his biker look (Fu Manchu mustache, trucker hat) and hard-nosed teams. Perhaps he made his chops as an assistant for Bill Belichick the year Cleveland announced its move to Baltimore.
Here's the Gospel According to Pat: Coaches' cars were turned over in the municipal stadium parking lot. They needed police escorts to get from the press box to the locker room and, oh yeah, Art Modell is a great person.
"I like Art Modell," he said this week. "Cleveland got their new stadium and Baltimore got their team back. But you had to have a fall guy. I think Art Modell is a great person."
That should go over well in Cleveland. In L.A., the Bulldogs should take this one into the fourth quarter. We mean it. This is the biggest game in Fresno history. Part of the reason the Coliseum is a sell-out is because thousands of fans are coming from the Central Valley.
"I'd love to play the California schools every week," Hill said. "Soon they'll start thinking they've got something to gain from playing us."
USC has Matt "Hollywood" Leinart, but Fresno State has its own Heisman Trophy winning Hollywood quarterback, Kevin Ward.
Kevin Ward was of course played by former Fresno State football player Brandon Molale. Brandon will be at the game tomorrow. Look for him on the USC sidelines, however, he will be the only one wearing Bulldog Red and NOT Cardinal.
Molale has starred in numerous movies and television shows including, among others, The Longest Yard, Dodgeball, and Mr. Deeds.
A Quote from a LA Daily News article about the big game. Carroll is right Fresno State could not have asked for anything much better than the national exposure they are getting this week. The game is getting hype from just about everybody who covers college football.
But this article and many others keep stating the Bulldogs have nothing to lose. That statement is totally false. Pat Hill has longed for Fresno State to be included among the elite of college football and now he has a chance to prove it. A blow out loss would almost certainly kill any more advances by Hill to get Fresno State into the big time.
Like Sanders, Bing will likely leave early for the NFL, but would like nothing more than shut up the 'Dogs. Fresno State needs to neutralize his presence on defense if they are going to have any to pull out the win.
Rivers and Collins were teammates on the 1992 team that beat USC in the Freedom Bowl, and say Fresno State will be ready to play and will not fear the Trojans.
Whether it is winning three straight bowl games or taking down Hawaii and Boise State in the same year. Paul Pinegar always keeps his cool. Pinegar, despite getting the brunt of the blame for last year's three game losing skid, may go down as the greatest quarterback in school history. He has a chance to accomplish feats that have never been done by any other quarterback in college football history.
Fox Sports Bay Area will broadcast a San Jose Sharks game, and Fox Sports West will carry a LA Kings game. That means only a select few who have Fox Sports West 2 or those who have satellite or digital cable sports packages will be able to see the game live.
FSBA is the local FSN affiliate in Fresno, and last week the Sharks took center stage over the Oregon-Washington State national TV game. However, the folks at Comcast will broadcast this weekend's Fresno State-USC game on the local community channel 14 for the Fresno Area.
What about the rest of the state? FSN has always looked like a second rate broadcast. All 18 affiliates nationally have access to the game, but the two biggest ones in California will not show it due to contracts to show hockey. Nothing against hockey, but the boys on the ice sat out last year due to monetary issues. How do these money hungry athletes get dibs over the greatest sport in the country, college football.
Hockey contracts over college football is just plain stupid, and that just makes the network look even worse. The Bulldogs and Trojans deserve better than a 10:15 ET kickoff on FSN. This game should have been at least a regional ABC telecast with Keith Jackson and Dan Fouts calling the game.
Many who would what to tune in and watch the biggest game of the week will not be able to from the confines of their own home, including those who live in San Diego County.
FRESNO STATE (8-1) AT SOUTHERN CAL (10-0): If The Bulldogs win I'll shave Pat Hill's mustache. There is talk of Fresno sneaking into the Fiesta Bowl if it wins. Come on. You can't equate beating the Weber States and Idahos of the world with playing in the SEC or ACC. Or even the QVC. Southern Cal, 45-20.
First if Fresno State beats USC, it will more than likely drop the Trojans from the top 2 of the BCS and put the Pac 10 champ in the Fiesta Bowl. Only if UCLA wins the Pac 10, meaning the Bruins beat USC and Oregon loses to Oregon State, is there a slight possibility Fresno State will play UCLA in the Fiesta Bowl. Honestly, if Fresno State can beat USC and snap the 32 game win streak, who in the SEC or ACC would want to play them?
Auburn did not want anything to do with Fresno State this year, and turned down a one and done home game in favor of a I-AA opponent. That is why Fresno State had to play Weber State. The Bulldogs haven't had a problem beating ACC schools. Just ask the Ramblin' Wreck and the Wahoos, neither is seeking a rematch anytime soon.
Fresno State would own the QVC and play in the Home Shopping Club Bowl every year.
Fresno State is undefeated
against the ACC.
Branch was not the most loved person among Fresno State fans, but what columnist is ever loved by the readers. But it is hard to imagined that even Branch would write such a decent piece about Fresno.
It is your usual stuff about the little guy taking on the big guy mantra. Am I the only one sick of hearing that crap? Yeah it might apply somewhat for this game, but Fresno State is 8-1 and ranked 16th in the country. The Bulldogs even hold a 1-0 lead in the series.
If Fresno State gets the crap beat out of them, then the media can talk about how the little guy Bulldogs were embarrassed by the mighty Trojans. Fresno State has earned enough respect to be taken seriously this Saturday, and are not your typical non-BCS team. Let the field determine if Fresno State is really a player nationally.
In 2000 the biggest redneck of them all, Bubba, from In the Heat of the Night was elected mayor of Fresno, California. Alan Autry is a down home type of guy with roots from right here in the Valley, Riverdale to be exact. He was a star high school athlete and earned a scholarship to play football at the University of Pacific in the early seventies.
His named then was Carlos Brown, and former son of a migrant farmworker befriended a sophisticated frat boy teammate, from the Bay Area, named Pete Carroll. Carroll was a hard-hitting defensive back, and Brown was the big Okie quarterback from the Valley.
Fast forward thirty plus years later and the former quarterback will be rooting against his former college teammate. Since returning to the Valley in the mid 1990's, Autry has become an avid supporter of Pat Hill and Fresno State. Saturday's game is one Autry has been waiting for all year, and I am sure Hill and the Bulldogs will not disappoint.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
If Fresno State takes USC the distance and leaves them bloody and hurt, will the Trojans want a rematch to prove that is was a fluke?
At least one writer thinks Fresno State will come out like Glass Joe instead of Rocky.
It will be Fresno State's first and only ESPN or ESPN2 telecast on a Saturday this year, ESPNU did air two games earlier this year, Weber State and at New Mexico State.
The best thing about it is that the Bulldog Sports Network will not broadcast the game. The Idaho game was enough Ralph Wood and Randy Rosenbloom I take for the season.
Hill came in with the mantra "that we will play big time football." Everyone in the community chuckled as no one seemed to think Fresno State could ever the play the likes of Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wisconsin or USC in the regular season, let alone on national television.
Well, here we are in 2005 and the community has embraced this no-nonsense coach for over eight years. No one in 1997 could have ever imagined that Fresno State would be ranked 16th in the country and be headed to the Coliseum to face off against the no. 1 ranked USC Trojans on national television.
Saturday, 7:15 p.m., FSN
The Daily Line: USC -23.5
Fresno State player to watch: Senior quarterback Paul Pinegar has a 30-9 record – including 3-0 in bowl games – as a starter for the Bulldogs. Pinegar has moved up the career charts in passing yards, total offense and touchdown passes. For his career, Pinegar has 8,843 passing yards and 72 career touchdown passes.
USC players to watch: USC may have the best pair of wide receivers in the land in Steve Smith (47 receptions, 858 yards, 18.3 per catch and 4 TDs) and sophomore Dwayne Jarrett (70 receptions, 1,033 yards, 14.8 per catch and 14 TDs). They are on pace to become USC's second pair of receivers with 1,000 yards receiving each.
The inside scoop: Fresno State will present the toughest challenge for the Trojans in several weeks. The Bulldogs have both a capable offense and a stingy defense. While nobody has beaten USC in the last 32 games, certainly Fresno State's combination a good offense and solid defense are ingredients you would need to pull the upset. The Trojans, however, seem to be tightening their focus recently and when they do that, they are next to unbeatable. In fact, they are unbeatable.
Fresno State will win if … Pinegar and the Bulldogs can manage to keep the Trojans' offense on the sidelines while also scoring points. That's the gameplan to beat the Trojans, but the last 32 opponents have failed to do that.
USC will win if … it doesn't look ahead to the showdown with UCLA and plays as if it is a little miffed with all the attention Texas has received of late. The Trojans may want to make their own statement Saturday night.
Note: This will be the first meeting between the two schools since the 1992 Freedom Bowl.
The pick: USC 44, Fresno State 20. -rivals.com
All that nonsense said, USC better be careful on Saturday night. The Bulldogs' only loss was a three-point defeat at No. 10 Oregon, a game Fresno State's top defensive player - Garrett McIntyre - missed because of injury. And didn't USC trail Oregon at halftime earlier this season?
To say that the two-time defending national champion Trojans (10-0) are ripe for upset is an understatement.
Let's just hope that the BCS has the vision to rank the Bulldogs among the top eight teams after their shocker on Saturday night.
No. 1 Southern California vs. No. 16 Fresno State, 10:15 p.m.
UCLA may still be left on the Trojans schedule. Fresno State, however, will be their toughest opponent. This would be the ultimate prize for giant-killer Pat Hill and the Bulldogs. They could make SC fans and the BCS sweat for most of this game. Southern California 40, Fresno State 23.
The boys at CSTV should be taking some notes from Erik Smith. Amsinger? Curtis? Who knows maybe they could be right and Fresno State does get blown out of the water. If that did happen it would be a surprise not the norm and most experts agree.
It is always good to get some respect nationally, and the great part about this year is Fresno State has not beaten a ranked BCS school to get it.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Amsinger is a poor man's Chris Fowler, with about 1/100th of Fowler's knowledge. He looks and acts like the Ryan Seacrest of college football television. If I didn't know any better. I would think he was a Trojan alum, but he is a 2001 graduate of Lindenwood University. Which is a NAIA school in Missouri. WTF? 55-10. USC will not beat Fresno State by 45 points, and the Trojan defense will not hold the Bulldogs to 10 points. If you are going to predict such a score as 55-10, give your analysis Amsinger. Just don't blurt it out like your predicting a Texas Tech-Indiana State game.
Then another idiot, Brian Curtis, jumps on board and says Fresno State will lose by 35 to 40 points. Curtis is a Virginia alum, I guess he didn't catch the Bulldogs putting 37 points on a very good Wahoo defense last year. But, the offense is much better this year, and the Fresno State defense is the best in the Pat Hill era.
It is evident that neither of these dumbshits watched any film or did any research and are just putting Fresno State in the same class as Washington State and Cal. Whatever, at least Brian Jones and Ray Lucas had some sense to say it will be a much closer game and a good test for USC.
Hey when Fresno State played New Mexico State, Utah State and Idaho that was a joke and those games did not need any special attention. If I was a USC homer and had no idea about Fresno State, other than their stats, games played, and conference affiliation, I would probably say this:
The Trojans are spending the week preparing for this Saturday's game against the Fresno State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are coming into the Coliseum this weekend ranked 16th in the nation with an 8-1 record. The Bulldogs' only loss this season came in their second game where they lost by three points at Oregon.
Of course, there are going to be the people who will say Fresno State has a great chance to pull off the upset, but there really is little to no chance at all on this one. The Trojans' stats blow Fresno State out of the water. When their schedules are compared, it makes USC's stats seem even stronger. It could also be added that the Trojan's starters often come out early in games, so their stats are a lot lower than they could be.
For those of you who don't believe in comparing stats, let's take a look at the "common opponents theory." It works out well for these two teams as they both played Oregon on the road, and they both played Hawaii on the road. At Hawaii, Fresno State won 27-13, while the Trojans won their game 63-17. At Oregon, the Bulldogs lost 37-34, and the Trojans won 45-13.
Don't look for an upset this week because there isn't one coming. USC should have another impressive win, leading to their final game of the season at home against UCLA on December 3. - Shane Carney
Usual pregame props by opposing coaches said during the press conference. The quotes from Pete Carroll and Pat Hill on this Saturday's game.
Senior cornerback John Walker is about ready to return to his starting spot, but will he get the start over his replacement Josh Pinkard? That is a good thing for USC, as Fresno State has a very underrated receiving corp that could have its best game of the year.
Linebacker Oscar Lua is back in the starting lineup after missing last week's game against Cal with a sprained knee. His backup Rey Maualuga still will get some playing time this after having an astounding game at Cal.
Maualuga was arrested the morning after Halloween for suspicion of misdemeanor battery after allegedly punching a man during a party near campus. His actions were not taken lightly by Trojan fans and students, but Carroll has yet to take any action against his star freshman because, he must believe football can save Rey Maualuga.
Bring it on: Never let it be said that top-ranked USC tries to avoid a challenge. The Trojans plays out of conference this week, hosting No. 16 Fresno State. USC coach Pete Carroll says he used to believe that allowing your team to play easier opponents to pad your record was beneficial, but he's changed his mind.
"The way we look at it, we've got to play great football every week, no matter what," Carroll said. "The challenges help us. ... There's no challenge we're not up for and we feel we can't handle."